With 91 points, the Rangers would have a chance to clinch a playoff spot tomorrow if the Red Wings beat the Canes tonight in Carolina in regulation, OT or shootout.
The Canes have 87 points. A loss in regulation would leave them four behind the Rangers with two games to play. Then, a win or a point against the Thrashers at MSG would give the Rangers 92.
If Carolina manages a point against the Wings, for 88, the Rangers could still clinch with two against Atlanta.
Should Carolina grab two points tonight, the Rangers’ hold on 8th place would be just two points and the pressure would really be on the Blueshirts to win tomorrow and maintain a lead.
I think the latest Gaborik trio could be effective with the right matchups against the Thrashers. I can also envision Gaborik double-shifting on the fourth line.
On the other hand, that fourth trio probably won’t see a lot of ice, especially in the third period. Christensen and Gilroy might be deployed on the PP, though. Gilroy seems refreshed by the experiment upfront, and as loyal readers know, I’ve suggested since last year that he might be better suited as a forward, where he played in HS on LI and two years at BU. Christensen said that of all the current D, Gilroy—a very good skater with offensive instincts---might be best equipped for the transition. A good performance as a swingman could also raise his market value if the Rangers don’t make a qualifying offer this summer and allow him to go unrestricted. Coach John Tortorella didn’t want to go into specifics about Gilroy, who said he was excited for the chance to contribute, except that he should “keep it simple”.
During practice, an altercation between Sean Avery and Michael Sauer almost came to blows. The Avery-Christensen-Gilroy line was rushing the net and Sauer chopped Avery, skating hard in the slot. Avery went down, face first, upended Lundqvist and both ended up in the dislodged net. Avery, visibly angry, sprung up, and stepped toward Sauer, shouting. Sauer stood there and may have responded, which caused Avery to shove him and Sauer shoved back. Coach Jim Schoenfeld and several players quickly stepped in to separate them and told them to cool down. Avery seemed annoyed afterward; Sauer was smiling. Tortorella shrugged it off, saying he liked the intensity.
More on Callahan, walking with crutches and a boot on right foot, Chris Drury, who skated wearing a non-contact jersey, and Gilroy, coming up….